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Lockdown brings bustling Brussels to a halt for the third day

FXStreet (Mumbai) - On fears of an imminent assault in Belgium authorities on Monday extended a lockdown of the Brussels for the third straight day. Police had launched an operation at an apartment in Molenbeek, a heavily Muslim dominated region in Belgium and discovered an automatic weapon, other guns and a paintball belt- things required to make to make suicide vests. Following the raid a terror alert was raised and soon after there was a lockdown.

The lock down is in response to intelligence received that another terror attack similar to the ISIS attack in Paris would be unleashed in Brussels. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel confirmed the looming threat. Authorities have detained 16 people in connection with the investigation into the Paris attacks. However, Salah Abdeslam, a major suspect in Paris attack is still on the run.

Security threat in Brussels raised to level 4

There were concerns that suspects could launch assaults in several crowded areas such as shopping malls or public transportation at the same time. The security threat in the city has been raised to level 4.
The public have been advised to avoid all potentially crowded areas such as airports as well as other public transportation. The metro system in Brussels is closed. Shopping areas, nightclubs, movie theatres, sporting events, concerts, museums etc come under the attack threat.

The government’ terror alert turned the otherwise busy streets quiet and led the subway to remain closed. Schools and universities have been ordered to stay shut. Many workplaces will continue to remain closed while some staff might choose to work from home.

Businesses hit as lockdown stretches to the third day

The only sound in the otherwise bustling city was that of sirens of rushing convoys of police and military vehicles. Heavily armed police and soldiers outnumbered the residents and tourists.

The lockdown will hit the overall business sentiment hard. Revenues earned from the tourism sector will suffer. Travellers have been advised to avoid the city. Locals will avoid visiting theatres, shopping malls, pubs etc due to security concerns. That will affect consumer spending. The fear of the collapse of the system is thus not unwarranted.

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon however tried to boost hope by stating that Belgium's capital was not giving up completely. "Apart from the closed metro and schools, life goes on in Brussels, the public sector is open for business today, many companies are open," Jambon said today.

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